Driving with Jens: Christmas time is tempting for thieves

Try to keep your vehicle tidy and conceal any and all valuables

With the Christmas season comes Christmas shopping and Christmas parcels. Inevitably we will hear stories of Christmas packages being taken from vehicles. It would really affect your Christmas spirit if that happens to you.

Whitehorse Property Crime is a popular Facebook page that regularly reports items stolen from vehicles or evidence that someone had tried to get in a vehicle.

I still see Facebook posts by friends and acquaintances reporting that their vehicle was broken into and their wallet or laptop was stolen. I immediately get mad at the idea people, taking things that don’t belong to them. Another part of my wonders why the person who got robbed was so reckless as to leave valuables in their vehicle.

If you practice target hardening you will give thieves much less of a chance to score you stuff.

Always try to park in a busy, well-lit area, and avoid concealment by larger vehicles, fences, or foliage. The greater the chances are that someone might see a crime in progress, the lower the chances are that the potential thief will attempt it.

Lock your doors and close the windows, even when you’re only going to be away from your vehicle for a few minutes. While this sounds like a no-brainer, it’s reported that up to a quarter of vehicle thefts are from unlocked vehicles. Police call it car shopping when offenders walk around checking vehicles to see if they are unlocked and easy prey.

Try to keep your vehicle tidy and conceal any and all valuables. You will never know what a potential thief will see as valuable so remove all bags, boxes, or other containers that thieves may see as hiding something.

Get in the habit of putting valuables and shopping bags in the trunk or with most SUV-type vehicles under a retractable cover in the back. This is especially true during the holidays. Take the extra few minutes to conceal all your packages.

It’s not always just large items thieves are looking for. Change in the cup holder is temping. Thieves also look for suction cup marks on your windshield that tell them you may have a navigation unit in the glove box. Power cords left plugged in and visible can tell thieves you may have an iPod in the vehicle.

Before leaving your vehicle get in the habit of looking in the window for things that would be potential bait for thieves. Make sure there is nothing visible that would be tempting for would be thieves. Yes, it may take an extra 30 seconds but it’s better than having your window broken and stuff taken.

Most stolen items from vehicles are: smartphones, personal electronics, laptops, iPods, GPS devices, work tools, credit cards and identification, stereo equipment, cash and change, car parts and accessories, garage door openers, sunglasses, and keys.

Like your vehicle, some valuables like laptops can also be protected with tracking software such as Lo-Jack or something similar. That way if it is taken you may be able to track it. There are other affordable tracking devices available today. Tile offers products as well.

If you’re going to engrave something identifiable on your valuables consider engraving your drivers license number. That way police can immediately determine who the item belongs to if they come across it.

At your home motion sensor lighting near your vehicle can also act as a deterrent. Ring, the people who make video doorbells also have flood light camera that will notify your smartphone if there is motion near your vehicle. You can then look at live HD video right on your smart phone, turn on lights, and even set off an alarm. You can also have these units record and save the video online.

If you come out to find your vehicle broken into, don’t touch anything or go rummaging around inside your vehicle. Call the RCMP and report it first. Depending on the circumstances they may or may not attend the scene, but will also start a case with a file number. Ask for the file number so your can give it to your insurance company.

If you don’t have an alarm system, get one. The noise alone may be enough to scare away an inexperienced thief and prevent the break-in. Factory-option alarm systems are generally best, but a properly installed aftermarket system can provide just as much safety.

Having the packages you just picked up at the post office or the ones you just purchased taken by thieves is not something you want to experience. It could ruin your Christmas. Take the time to secure your vehicle.

Catch Driving, with Jens on CHON FM Thursdays at 8:15. If you have any questions or comments you can reach out to Jens Nielsen at drivingwithjens@gmail.com, Facebook or Twitter: @drivingwithjens

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